CCI Research Colloquium Presentation on Soft Skills to be Held March 16
The third College of Communication and Information (CCI) Research Colloquium will take place at 2:15 p.m. on Friday, March 16 in Rm. 332 of the University Library.
Miriam Matteson, Ph.D., associate professor and co-graduate coordinator in the School of Information, will present her research titled, “Addressing the Elephant in the Room: An Examination of Soft Skills in Academic Librarianship.”
Library work includes hard and soft skills, Matteson says. Hard skills are the technical skills that advance the functional work of the library and pertain primarily to skills that support the acquisition, classification, preparation, storage, retrieval and circulation of materials. Soft skills are the non-technical interpersonal abilities used to facilitate library work to support the library’s mission and goals. Library and Information Science curricula have traditional focus primarily on facilitating knowledge and skill related to hard skill sets. Soft skills and the knowledge that support those skills are seldom addressed in any comprehensive or formal way in the curriculum. Yet, soft skills are critical in the library workplace.
This talk reports on some exploratory research that examined academic librarians’ self-reported soft skills and how they employ those skills in the workplace. Interview data from 24 academic librarians were analyzed using content and narrative analysis. The findings point to some important gaps and opportunities for academic librarianship education and training. Preliminary conclusions suggest that much like the metaphorical elephant in the room, soft skills take up significant space in our internal understanding of library work, but are largely ignored in training and education, and go undiscussed or recognized in the workplace. The research reported here begins to explore the extent to which this is phenomenon exists in academic libraries, and suggests ways libraries can more systematically articulate, train, evaluate, and reward soft skills in the workplace.
"Virtually all reports on the future of academic libraries declare that librarian roles require enhanced skills in leadership, outreach, collaboration and the ability to communicate library value. Embedded in these roles are abilities subsumed in the idea of soft skills,” Matteson, said. “LIS education and librarianship practice need to clearly identify soft skill sets and support training and development of those skills across the field."
The presentation is free of charge and all are invited to attend. The colloquium series provides an opportunity for faculty, students, staff and affiliates to foster intellectual and collaborative discussions, and to stay informed about current CCI research efforts.